Lee Fields – Live @ Xoyo, London

Emma Jean Album Launch Party @ Xoyo, London

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

The man is back! After a two-year hiatus from UK shores, Lee Fields and the Expressions chose Xoyo in London as the venue for the album launch party of their stunning new album “Emma Jean.” Since his last visit, Mr Fields’ reputation as “The ‘New’ Hardest Working Man in Show Business, “has escalated ten-fold, following tours of Europe, Australasia and his native USA in support of his previous two super fine albums. With barely a week’s break and with the aforementioned fabulous publically and critically acclaimed ten-track “Emma Jean” CD now on general release, the team at Truth and Soul records are unleashing the jewel in their crown to once again grace stages throughout Europe and the USA and do what Lee Fields and The Expressions do best i.e. spread love and bring smiles to people’s faces via the medium of “Sweet Soul Music.”

Following the now customary full length introductory instrumental tune from his powerhouse backing band The Expressions, our protagonist was summoned onto the Xoyo stage by bass player Nick Movshon. Entering stage right, the ‘Real Soul’ music supremo sauntered into the spotlight to rousing cheers and applause. Sharply decked out in black shirt, black trousers, sunglasses, an immaculate pair of spats, and a brilliant white blazer with black trim and handkerchief, Mr Lee Fields looked every inch the Soul superstar as he addressed converts both young and old, “I know you came here to party, so we might as well get this party started!”

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

And with that the party did indeed get started with the title track from his 2009 ‘My World’ album. The already hyped up audience demonstrated they were in fine voice when mid-way through Mr Fields encouraged them to scream their approval of what they were hearing. Still in nostalgic mode, Mr Fields then dipped into his 2012 ‘Faithful Man’ set with a Muscle Shoals-esque rendition of, ‘I’ve Still Got It.’ With his vocal chords now fully warmed up, the raw Soul crooner was now ready to get the ‘Emma Jean’ album launch party started proper. “Now we’re gonna do a song from the Emma Jean CD, the new CD; it’s called ‘Standing By Your Side.’ I hope you like it!”

Following a brief technical pause and having now removed his dark glasses, Mr Fields proceeded with the reassuring lyrics of the aforementioned ‘Standing By Your Side.’ The punchy attack of the horn section, combined with Fields’ raw emotion made this an instant hit with his predominately youth based audience. That raw emotion carried over into the second track of the evening from his new album, via the aching sentiments of, ‘Still Gets Me Down.’ Bass player Nick Movshon and Vincent John on guitar did their best impression of the Beatles, sharing a single microphone stand for their backing vocals.

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Vincent John (guitar), Nick Movshon (bass), Lee Fields (vocals), Patrick Sargent (Sax), Jason Colby (trumet)
Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Wiping the sweat from his brow with a blue flannel, Lee Fields introduced another quality slice of gritty Soul music from his latest collection, “Now I’d like to do another new song from the Emma Jean CD, a song called, ‘You Just Can’t Win.’ Can you put your hands together?!” The swooning, harmonising backing vocals of Nick Movshon and Vincent John melded smoothly into Toby Pazner’s organ style vamp intro, laying down the musical platform for the master of lyrical interpretation to express his hard luck story.

The two-step rare-groove feel of this track has already made it an instant favourite for DJs and music connoisseurs alike. Prior to performing the exquisite ‘Magnolia,’ his sensitive Country/Soul re-working of the recently demised JJ Cale penned song, Fields stated, “Right now we’d like to do a song called ‘Magnolia.’ It was written by the late JJ Cale… I thought the song was so beautiful; when Leon (Michels) said let’s do the song, I just had to do it. And it goes like this.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

The unique arrangement and delicate use of steel guitar giving the track that Country music twang so familiar to Lee’s ears during his formative years. Big props go to drummer Evan Pazner, who’s steady, metronomic backbeat provided a reassuring warmth and wholesomeness to this short, but perfectly paced homage to its author. The following tune, ‘Talk To Somebody’, written by Mr Fields himself, was a 180° departure from the preceding tune in terms of tempo. Before getting underway, Mr Fields took the opportunity to give a shout out to The Expressions, “Give it up one more time for this magnificent band here!” His comments were greeted with roars of approval by all those gathered into sold-out Xoyo venue, as he went on to inform us that the next tune was also lifted from his new Emma Jean CD. Right on cue, The Expressions exploded into the chunky high energy riffs of ‘Talk to Somebody,’

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

That very same high energy was pulsating through the veins of Lee Fields as he strained every sinew whilst strutting from side to side on the stage, imploring us repeatedly to get down on our knees and talk to somebody. Once again the dynamic duo brass section of Jason Colby and Patrick Sergeant made their presence known with some perfectly pitched, punchy and powerful horn salvos, matching the heightened intensity of their leading man’s vocal prowess.

In between supping on a well deserved bottle of water, Fields enquired as to whether the punters were enjoying themselves thus far; again the answer was a unanimous yes as he continued on to introduce another soon-to-be classic, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ from his latest album project, poignantly named after his beloved and deeply missed mother, Emma Jean.

The way in which this great man took a hold of the song’s essence and delivered such an expansive, emotional, heart- wrenching and passionate plea for his loved one not to leave him was reminiscent of soulful power ballads performed by such vocal legends as James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley, Otis Redding or Al Green. The wailing agony of longing and loss portrayed by Fields resonated throughout every single audience member’s fibre. It was a performance which left one drained from just watching it, let alone the effect it had on its purveyor. Superb!

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Once again Lee Fields and The Expressions applied the tried and tested formula of igniting vim and vigour back into the audience by segueing into a mightily addictive and audience participation song, in this case their anthemic and now universally acclaimed homage to women the world over, ‘Ladies’.

The Lee Field devotees didn’t need a second invitation to extend their arms skywards and sway them from side to side as instructed and orchestrated by Mr Fields. I truly believe that if Mr Fields changed his name to the Pied Piper, people would follow him to the ends of the Earth and back, such is his personal magnetism and stage persona.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

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Two songs later, we were notified by the man with the velvet vocals that another new album crisp biscuit, Eye to Eye’ was next up. This slow burner of a killer ballad built to the most intense of crescendos, leading into a three second pregnant pause, before exploding again into a final impactful chorus line. Can it get any better! It seemed as if we had been transported back to 1967 and the Monterey International Pop Festival; such is the soulful retro feel created by The Expressions with the Soul general at the helm.

Another two crowd favourites from recent years followed in the form of the explosive ‘Money I$ King’ and ‘You’re The Kind of Girl’ before the North Carolina native intimated that the party was drawing to a close, “Right now, it’s that time of the evening when I’ve got to sing about the faithful man! Let me see the hands of the faithful men out here?…So right now it’s time to sing that song and it goes like this.” Evan Pazner’s drop hammer drumbeat synchronised neatly with his brother Toby’s Jimmy Smith-esque organ chords as the title track from his well received 2012 ‘Faithful Man’ set boomed out from the strategically placed speakers.

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Evan Pazner (drums) Lee Fields & Vincent John (guitar)
Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Pouring out his soul, the only way he knows how, the man affectionately known as ‘Little JB’ continued to woo and amaze his audience with a stunning vocal display of power and passion as he pleaded his case of being a faithful man. Fields’ high-pitched screams which emanate from deep within his gut are something to behold. This man is the real deal. As the band played on the well attired soul man began to exit the stage. However, the crowd were having none of it and raised the volume prompting Fields to feign leaving the stage and returning to the microphone stand three times ala Mr James Brown, each time letting out his now trademark yelps.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Having shaken the hands and taken the plaudits of his adoring fans, Lee Fields reluctantly left the stage, followed soon after by the rest of the band. After a brief hiatus and a reluctance of anybody to go home just yet, The Expressions sauntered back on to the stage and treated us to a full on instrumental before bassist Nick Movshon reintroduced the man of the hour to sweet to be sour. And what an entrance Mr Fields made second time around; resplendent in a black trimmed gold lame jacket, which was all that covered his bare torso.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

While towelling himself down Mr Fields asked those assembled to put their hands together in time to the rhythm being played behind him, that of his already cult classic, ‘Honey Dove.’ Not only did they clap along in time they wholeheartedly sang along to the opening verse, creating an atmosphere of love, harmony and oneness within Xoyo. The enticing and hypnotic initial groove of this lush, lullaby-esque lilt was the perfect way to seal the bond between artist and audience. By the end of the tune however the BPM’ had tripled and Mr Fields was bounding around the stage.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Like a Duracell battery the stored energy and stamina Lee Fields possesses is truly astounding, even for a man half his age. This is precisely why his audience is growing so rapidly the world over as word spreads of his electric high octane live performances, which are truly value for money. Every time Lee Fields steps on stage you know by the time he’s left he has given his heart and soul and sweated out litres of water to entertain you in the process. The Emma Jean album launch party at Xoyo, London was no different. Play on Mr Lee Fields play on!

Michael J Edwards

The Band:
Lee Fields (vocals)
The Expressions: Toby Pazner (keys); Evan Pazner (drums); Vincent John (guitar); Nick Movshon (bass); Jason Colby (trumpet); Patrick Sargent (sax)

Essential Tour Dates:
http://leefieldsandtheexpressions.com/tour/

Essential Albums:
Emma Jean (2014 Truth & Soul)
Faithful Man (2012 Truth & Soul)
My World (2009 Truth & Soul)

Essential Website:
http://truthandsoulrecords.com
http://leefieldsandtheexpressions.com

travelling the spaceways since 1993